If a meeting planner were to consider the Greater Phoenix, Scottsdale and Sedona areas for a gathering, their first thought might be, “My attendees better like the great outdoors!” After all, that’s what the destination is known for, right?
There is, in fact, much to see and do outdoors—like golfing, desert excursions, hiking, rock climbing or just taking in fantastic sunsets. But the region offers a variety of interesting indoor venues and activities as well, including entertainment complexes, art galleries, aquariums and new and upgraded hotels—no sunscreen required.
The downtown renaissance that started three years ago with the expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, which boosted the facility to 900,000 square feet, is in full swing. Meeting attendees can step off their flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and onto the PHX Sky Train, a light rail system that gets riders from the airport to downtown in just 20 minutes for $1.75, or $3.50 for an all-day pass.
From there, visitors may want to visit CityScape Phoenix, a downtown entertainment, dining and nightlife complex. In June, the meetings-ready, 242-room Hotel Palomar Phoenix opened at CityScape. The Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group property is a new build, which is a departure from the company’s favoring of historic building conversions.
“The Palomar brings a creative, boutique hotel to the downtown mix,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix CVB.
Other group hotels in town include the largest property in Arizona, the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel; Westin Phoenix Downtown; Hyatt Regency Phoenix; Renaissance Phoenix Downtown (reflagged from a Wyndham), and Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, which recently renovated its meeting space.
Other key properties in the Phoenix area are the Arizona Biltmore, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection; Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa; JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa; and Arizona Grand Resort.
“In addition to Hyatt, there’s Marriott, Starwood and now Kimpton and Renaissance,” MacKenzie says. “There are so many choices, depending on what brands someone likes.”
Culturally rich off-site venues are a highlight of Phoenix, including the historic Orpheum Theater, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, focusing on Native American heritage.